April 30, 2008
It must have been eerie to be in Jericho those six days before the walls fell. The reputation of the Israeli Army had everyone's stomach in a knot, and each of those six days they would march silently around the city once, seven of their priests blowing trumpets as they marched. The citizens of Jericho must have known an attack was coming. Rather than negotiate peace (as the prostitute Rahab had done for her family), the city nervously clings to its independence.
You know the rest of the story in Joshua 6 (the men in the brig knew it as we studied it a couple of weeks ago). The 7th Day brings seven trips around the walls, with the seven priests blowing seven trumpets each of the seven times. After the #7 Trip, the people break the silence with a shout, the walls come tumbling down, and Joshua and his Army destroy the city with fire.
The people have 6 1/2 days to repent. Instead, they hole up in the city, perhaps hopeful they can do what no other city has done: defy the Armies of the Living God. But God's wrath is executed as planned upon the unrepentant.
Thank God that He gives us more than 6 1/2 days to repent. We're often more like the heathen of Jericho than we're willing to admit. We hear rumors; we hear trumpets. We do nothing. Some have even gone to prison without remorse. Christ died for the ungodly. May God grant repentance before the trumpets blow and the people shout and the walls come tumbling down.
The Army (U.S., not Israeli) has arrived at the Miramar Brig. In the last six weeks, seventy soldiers have arrived from the Army's facility at Ft. Lewis, Washington; that facility is now closed. As a result, we've seen our Wednesday night study in the book of Joshua grow. This is the first wave of brig closings; each brig west of the Mississippi (including the Camp Pendleton brig just 40 miles away) will send their entire population to relocate at Miramar. The Miramar facility will be enlarged to accommodate the influx. That construction is scheduled to be completed in 2010. All this is being done to save Department of Defense money.
Although it means more men at Bible study, these kinds of changes bring about lots of confusion for inmates and brig staff. The arrival of Army guards at a Navy command means different rules get emphasized at different times. Prisoners have no way of knowing whether they'll be in trouble for doing something they've done for months without consequence.
The chaplain and his assistant (what the Navy calls an 'RP') will have twice the staff and twice the prisoners to care for, and the tension is apparent.
Please keep this two-year transition in your prayers. And as our Bible study grows, remember the sailors and airmen who've been faithful for the last several months: especially Bruce, Eric, and Robert. Pray that they don't get "lost in a crowd." The two men I mentioned in my February letter, Chris C. and Chris D. will both be released soon, but have not been to the Wednesday night group since I last wrote.
On the outside, continue to remember Javier. He was sentenced on February 29 to 70 months. Because of certain "incentives," he will probably be free in about 42 months. This is probably the best outcome that we could hope for. At last report, he had left San Diego and was somewhere in Arizona awaiting transfer to his permanent "home", which the judge ordered to be in California. Also pray for Nathan, who was released from Miramar two months ago. Nate went home to Oregon, where he lives and works with his parents. He reports lots of tension at work and at home.
For those of you who continue to pray for my dad in Indianapolis, you'll be happy to know that after two months in the hospital, two months in a nursing home, and now two months at home, he is up and about, even after having his gall bladder removed (with a couple of complications) two weeks ago. Now my parents need to make wise decisions about selling their home and settling into retirement.
As always, I give you thanks for the hard work you do in prayer for this ministry, and for the gracious donations that make it possible.